Iran nuclear deal commission to meet in Vienna
BRUSSELS, Feb 24, 2020 (BSS/AFP) – The remaining parties to the Iran
nuclear deal will meet in Vienna on Wednesday, the EU’s diplomatic service
announced, after Britain, France and Germany launched a dispute process over
Iran’s successive pullbacks.
The office of EU diplomatic chief Josep Borrell — who is tasked with
convening the commission under the dispute mechanism — said the get-together
would be chaired on his behalf by senior official Helga Schmid.
The meeting comes as the European parties try to find a way to persuade
Iran to come back into line with the deal after Tehran made a series of steps
away in protest at the US pulling out and reimposing sanctions.
The 2015 agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear programme in return for
sanctions relief has been slowly crumbling since US President Donald Trump
unilaterally withdrew in 2018, describing the accord signed by his
predecessor Barack Obama as a bad deal.
The EU has led efforts to try to save the deal, arguing that it is vital
for international security, but after repeated warnings over Iran’s moves,
Germany, Britain and France triggered the dispute process on January 14.
In its last announcement, Tehran said it would no longer observe limits on
the number of centrifuges used to enrich uranium. It was its fifth step away
from the deal since Trump’s pullout.
Borrell has said he believes all the countries still in the deal — which
also include Russia and China — are determined to save the accord.
– Iran looking for concessions – Western diplomats recognise it is highly
unlikely Iran will heed calls to come back into full compliance without
substantial concessions in return — such as an end to US sanctions or Europe
taking measures to offset their economic impact.
Instead they hope to use the dispute process, which can be strung out for
quite some time, to convince Iran not to take any more moves away from the
deal, giving space for back-channel diplomacy aimed at bringing Washington
and Tehran back into alignment.
At a major international security conference in Munich earlier this month,
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Tehran would be prepared to
move back towards the deal if Europe provides “meaningful” economic benefits.
Crucially, Iran has said it will continue to cooperate with the Vienna-based
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which carries out regular detailed
inspections on the ground.
Europe has set up a special trading mechanism called Instex to try to
enable legitimate humanitarian trade with Iran, but it has yet to complete
any transactions and Tehran regards it as inadequate.
The renewed US sanctions have almost entirely isolated Iran from the
international financial system, driven away oil buyers and plunged the
country into a severe recession.